Luke and two fish arrived at the studio for a second intense day of experimentation. With a hot cup of tea in hand, and enjoying the welcome heat from the wood stove, we checked over the results from the kilns. The hot shop work was still annealing, and the lehr was not going to be opened for a while as we had the clock piece set up for a long annealing cycle. There are two important variables that could crack that solid piece of glass with a clock in it. One is the annealing cycle (cooling relative to the thickness of the glass) where the glass is held at specific temperatures and cooled according to its thickness to relieve stresses within the glass structure. The second, that the glass has a different, incompatible, material within it, and the cooling rate and coefficiency of expansion are different for both brass and glass.
‘Mock Leg’ Slump. The ‘mock leg’ slump using thin float glass hadn’t quite worked out. The glass was stuck to the material and the tension this caused had cracked the glass. We are certain this will not happen with the new, fireproof material that we had discovered. The float glass slumped over this new material looked perfect. Luke took off the folded piece of glass to investigate texture further. He sandblasted it in our blasting shed, realising that …he loved sandblasting!
Eaten Away. Luke discovered that sandblasting mirrors and a variety of charity shop glass wares was an interesting way of creating an “eaten away” process, as if termites had chewed away at the glass. The folded fabric had a glossy, almost plastic look when it came out of the kiln. When blasted, it maintained a lovely texture, but with a heightened feeling of fragility, even vulnerability. We discussed other options to take back gloss such as acid polishing.
Figure in a Blanket cont. Returning to the ‘figure in a blanket’ idea, we looked at how much material we might need. This involved KT posing in a fetching green cloth. We tried a number of poses to figure out how much material and what kiln size would be required. It needed to be a minimum of 1.3 m width by 1.8m length, to cover a whole curled up figure, and we need to source a kiln big enough. We also need to test a larger (than the mock leg) piece in our own kiln first, using 4mm and thicker, and even testing clear glass (low iron) and normal. We will see how the weight of the glass (thickness) determines the drop and accuracy onto and over folds. Helga, also talks about the fragility of the piece, once it become a larger object. Scale will alter its physical properties as well as the technical challenges of making it. We decided that initially we should slump over a lying figure as a seated figure would be much higher and trickier, not to mention trying to find a kiln that high to work with. This could be made in sections, but Luke wants to do it in one piece.
Distortions. Next door in the hot shop we lit the furnace and prepared some more charity shop glass objects by heating them in the top loaders (kilns). These were picked up and distorted with a torch, pulling and tweaking them out like virus forms. Luke wanted to further experiment with stretching and distortion, rather like distorting images in Photoshop. A decanter we were working on smashed on the floor. Think maybe we should pick it up on the blowing iron, and blow it out “turgid” again, torching and pulling to distort the form with perhaps some tumblers to go with it. We will continue to explore the ‘virus’ style, and the ‘distortion/stretch’ idea.
Kiln Prep Next in one of the large kilns, Luke laid out a selection of chemistry style borosilicate glass pieces, and also some more charity shop glass. For this firing we were also including one flat fish (plaice) sandwiched between two sheets of float glass.
Later At 3 o’clock, Neil Wilkin arrived. Neil is a hugely talented and experienced glass artist who has trained many glassmakers in his career, as well as making his own beautiful work. He had very kindly offered to help Luke realise some of his ideas in the hot shop. He suggested that we perhaps should not put the fish whole with flesh into the kiln, as the oils etc, may well penetrate the kiln materials. So we removed the fish and brought it over to the “sacrificial kiln” (as we have now named it) …a small top loader. Of our two partridge moulds from Day 1, we used one to “hot cast” into, from the ball iron. With not enough time to completely dry out the mould, the glass stuck then blew bubbles, as we thought may happen. The second mould we plan to kiln cast into.
Review After an extremely busy and exciting two days at The Glass Hub Luke already has a good insight into many glass techniques. We have blown, cast, fused, slumped, lampworked, and sandblasted to create and distort. We really hope the days were as rewarding and exciting for him as they were for us. Looking forward to the next session, when we will review all the techniques we played with and focus on those Luke would like to explore further. Check back next week to see what we get up to.
Here are some more photos…